Whether you call it “corkage,” “BYOB” or “brown-bagging,” most wine drinkers want the freedom to occasionally bring a special bottle of wine from their personal collection into a restaurant. Where state and local laws allow the practice (it's complicated …), it's often up to individual restaurants to choose whether they want to permit corkage, and if they do, what fee to charge per bottle.
Restaurants—which would prefer you to order off their list—argue that they should be compensated for the use of the glassware and the service, as should the servers in their tip. Most wine drinkers would agree to some extent—fees of $15 to $25 are now considered typical at restaurants licensed to sell alcohol—but some of the corkage fees charged are so high that they are meant to discourage BYOB. Common BYOB etiquette dictates that you should always ask the restaurant first, make sure the wine isn't already on their list and order a bottle off their list as well. But after those niceties are taken care of, what fee range is reasonable so that neither the customer nor the restaurant is taken advantage of?
Posted: January 21, 2015
When the New Year rolls around, many people make resolutions centered around improving their health—exercise more, eat less and so on. Fortunately for wine lovers, that doesn't mean giving up a glass of wine or two a day. Numerous studies have linked light to moderate wine consumption to various health benefits—from reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes complications to improving memory and the immune system. (Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is connected to numerous risks, so don't overindulge.) Scientists are still figuring out exactly how apparently beneficial wine compounds work in our bodies, but in the meantime, their research makes for fascinating reading while you enjoy your favorite wine.
Posted: January 7, 2015
American wine drinkers have a growing thirst for Champagne, and producers are answering the call. For her annual tasting report in the Dec. 31 issue, senior editor Alison Napjus rated 450 Champagnes, the highest number yet for Wine Spectator. Among them were wines from nearly 150 producers, 26 of them appearing for the first time. Much of that growth comes from small grower-producers, who make Champagne from their own grapes, highlighting a specific terroir. In terms of sheer volume, however, the U.S. market is still dominated by the big Champagne houses, who make wine from estate and purchased grapes, typically blend wines from multiple sites and, generally speaking, still set the bar for quality.
Posted: December 24, 2014
Online wine sales have been increasing in the United States but they're not a major part of the industry yet. The vast majority of wine is still sold in brick-and-mortar outlets. Recently, a survey by researchers at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo shed some light on who is buying wine online: These consumers tend to be wine connoisseurs and are generally seeking higher quality wines from recognized appellations, with a preference for family-owned or small wineries. They are also quite tech savvy and use technology to research wine information. In other words, they sound just like a lot of WineSpectator.com's readers.
Posted: December 10, 2014
The third Thursday of November marks the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau each year. Though this event was wildly popular in the 1980s, the festivities surrounding the wines' release have quieted down in recent years, and exports of Nouveau have dropped from their peak. Regardless, Beaujolais Nouveau provides a first look at the latest vintage in France, and the wines serve as a good introduction to the Beaujolais region, which also provides more serious styles. Nouveau is also a popular wine at the Thanksgiving meal since these fresh, fruity, easygoing reds can handle the diverse range of savory and sweet flavors on the table. (See our 2014 Nouveau reviews.)
Posted: November 26, 2014
Posted: November 12, 2014
Wine Spectator editors are always on the lookout for great values—wines with low prices and strong scores or real deals for their region or variety. (You can find these online in our Value Wines lists or in the magazine's Buying Guide page of Spectator Selections, labeled as Smart Buys or Best Values.) But "value wine" means different things to different people—based on budget, favorite styles, wine experience and more. Where do you set the limit in general?
Posted: November 5, 2014
Most wine lovers enjoy going to wine tastings (like last weekend's New York Wine Experience) or touring wine country, sampling dozens or even hundreds of wines over a few days. It's a chance to both try well-known names and discover new favorites among unfamiliar wines. But when you find a rising star, if it gets popular, the prices may go up or it gets harder for you to find.
Posted: October 22, 2014
People keep wine collections for many reasons—to store wines for long-term aging, to always have their favorites on hand or to stock a diverse range of bottlings for nearer-term drinking and entertaining. Some collectors have pristine storage to preserve wines that might appreciate in value so they can resell them. But what's going into those cellars? Wine Spectator recently looked at sales of collectibles at commercial wine auctions in the United States: By volume, Bordeaux continues to represent the largest category of wine at auction, though it has dipped in value, while wines from Burgundy are growing as a category. But most cellars are being stocked with wines purchased straight from the winery or at retail upon release.
Posted: October 8, 2014
Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, amid the excitement of crush for the new vintage, is a fun time to tour wine regions and taste at the wineries—whether for a day trip or a week-long vacation. Even if you can't get away this season, it's nice to offset the shortening days by dreaming of where you're heading next and starting to make travel plans.
Posted: September 24, 2014
Sure, today tons of restaurants have great wine lists. But sometimes you just want to bring your own bottle. Maybe you're celebrating a special occasion and want to drink a wine that has special meaning to you. Maybe you have a favorite restaurant for great food or location but the wine selection is skimpy. Perhaps you have a great cellar with lots of rare, mature wines you don't find at a typical restaurant. Or you live in a town where many restaurants don't have liquor licenses and BYO is the norm.
Posted: September 10, 2014
It's easy to find a great bottle of wine if you shell out enough money. But these days, many regions of the world offer good value, with wines rated 85 points or higher for as little as $15 or less per bottle. These whites, reds and even sparklers encompass benchmark wines and new discoveries, a range of grape varieties and blends, and styles suited for easy sipping or serious enjoyment.
Posted: August 27, 2014
It's fun to experiment trying different wines with different foods. Following a few simple guidelines, you can find a wine that will enhance the food on the table. With experience, you can devise a spectacular match that can dramatically improve both the dish and the wine, creating a memorable occasion. (Check out Wine Spectator's Sept. 30 issue for some fantastic dessert recipes and wine pairings.)
But most of us drink only a small portion of a glass of wine with the food, while taking many sips before and after consuming the dish it’s paired with. And most of the time, you spend more time talking with your fellow diners than you do analyzing the pairings. So how much does it really matter?
Posted: August 13, 2014
Whether you are new to wine or it's been a passion of yours for years, there is always something more to learn: new wineries, regions, grapes, styles or techniques, or old ones experiencing a resurgence.
Posted: July 30, 2014
This year, more than 3,700 restaurants around the world earned a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award for its wine list. Typically, restaurants must offer at least 90 wine selections to earn the basic Award of Excellence, 400 or more wines to earn the Best of Award of Excellence, and the 74 Grand Award winners offer 1,500 wine selections, if not many, many more.
Posted: July 16, 2014
Every year, Wine Spectator honors restaurants around the world for excellence in their wine lists—those that offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. In 2014, more than 3,700 restaurants earned one of our Restaurant Wine List Awards, including 74 that took top honors with our Grand Award.
Posted: July 2, 2014
In the United States, much of the wine purchased at retail is for immediate consumption. But most wine lovers end up with at least a few extra bottles from their shopping and tasting trips, and some get bit by the collecting bug.
Posted: June 18, 2014
Posted: June 4, 2014
Summer is coming in the northern hemisphere and, with it, rising temperatures. Prolonged exposure to heat can potentially damage wines, but many people don't worry too much about it, especially if they mostly keep wines for short-term drinking at hand. Other wine lovers invest significant time and money in protecting their precious bottles.
Posted: May 21, 2014
Markups make wine at most restaurants significantly pricier than buying at retail and drinking at home. As a result, some people seek out the values on wine lists to keep the total tab reasonable. Others use the occasion of dining out as a reason to splurge on a more expensive wine, perhaps something aged or that they can't find easily in stores.
Posted: May 7, 2014
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